Yahoo packs personal web on phone

Yahoo! has upped the ante in the mobile Internet wars with the launch of Yahoo Mobile, which puts an emphasis on open platforms, content customization and discoverability. 

Launched at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Tuesday, Yahoo Mobile combines a number of existing mobile-optimized services like oneSearch and oneConnect with a new service called onePlace, which allows users to create a widget grid of favorite web content - from news, RSS feeds and sports scores to social networking sites and profiles - accessible and manageable from one menu.

"OnePlace is like a shoebox - you put what you want in it," said Yahoo EVP Marco Boerries. "You can add things quickly through a quick-add menu, or you can search the Net and create a widget for what you want."

Discoverability is a key feature, with the oneSearch service now armed with a voice-recognition function.

oneConnect aggregates communications services like email and IM, as well as Pulse, a service that aggregates social networking updates from Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and others and puts them all in one place.

Boerries said the service was designed to work with as many mobile devices as possible via browsers such as Opera Mini, Internet Explorer Mobile, WebKit-based browsers and the BlackBerry Bold and Storm browsers.

"We want mobile to be the starting point of the internet for everyone, because the handset is the most personal device you carry with you," he said. "To do that, this has to run on various phones."

Yahoo Mobile is initially available in beta by invitation only, but the browser-based version will be ready for commercial launch by late March. A downloadable app version for the iPhone will also be available by then, while app versions for select models from RIM, Windows Mobile, Nokia S60 and 40, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Motorola will be launched by the end of May.

Boerries also showcased an early incarnation of an Android-compatible app of the service, although he declined to say when it would be commercially available.

Yahoo says versions of Yahoo Mobile in specific markets, including India, Indonesia and the Philippines, will be available at launch, with other countries to get their own versions later in the year.

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